13 Best Essential Oils for Poison Ivy Relief

By Joshua Davis •  Updated: 10/18/22 •  15 min read

My first encounter with poison ivy was actually inside city limits behind the little league baseball fields. My sister had a softball tournament and I took to exploring a small wooded area behind the fields.

I stumbled on a rather healthy blackberry bush that was heavy with fat, juicy berries just waiting to be harvested. Unbeknownst to me, to get to the bush, I had just walked waste-deep through a copse of poison ivy.

A few hours later, I was waist-deep in itchy, rashy misery.

Blast those blackberries.

I’m not sure why Mother Nature ever saw Poison Ivy as a good idea; however, fortunately for us, she also saw fit to propagate other plants that can come to our rescue.

There are numerous essential oils for poison ivy relief, as well as precautions you can take to ensure you and your kids steer clear of my childhood fate.

Helpful Tip: If you’re in a hurry and need to jump to the list of essential oils, use the QUICK LINKS below!

Identifying Poison Ivy in the Wild

In any situation the best remedy is prevention. If you can avoid coming into contact with poison ivy altogether, then you won’t have to worry about experiencing that relentless burning itch. To do that, it is important to know what poison ivy looks like.

Poison ivy, a notorious member of the poison sumac family (as is poison oak), grows as a vine or shrub and is found throughout North America. It has leaves that grow in clusters of three, the center leaf having a longer stem than the other two.

Because it is not entirely shade-tolerant, poison ivy loves to grow along the borders of wooded areas and campgrounds, in sunny clearings, or at the edge of ponds and streams.

It absolutely also loves to creep along the edges of hiking trails.

Identifying poison ivy can be challenging because the leaves can be smooth-edged, lobed (mitten-shaped), or even saw-toothed. Also, depending on the season, the leaves can change colors ranging from green in spring to red and yellow in autumn.

Wilderness Tip: Probably the easiest way to prevent young children from coming into contact with poison ivy is to teach them a little jingle:

“Leaves of three, let it be!”

This is easier for them to grasp until they’re of a more discerning age and can effectively identify the plant.

The best approach to avoiding this particularly grumpy plant is to stick to marked, established hiking trails and avoid wandering into areas where poison ivy is likely to grow (you know … off the trail).

If you plan to venture into an area where poison ivy is present, go prepared:

In the unfortunate event that someone in your hiking party does brush up against this pernicious weed, we’ve included some helpful steps to begin immediate treatment. Read on!

Immediate Action in Case of Contact

If you suspect you or someone with you (even a furry member of the family) may have brushed up against poison ivy, immediate action can prevent the spread of the rash.

If you know your clothing has brushed against the plant, carefully remove it and store it in a sealable bag until it can be washed (with soap and ammonia). The oily resin from the plant’s tiny hairs can remain transmittable for months after contact.

Recognizing Poison Ivy Symptoms

So, what if you touched it and didn’t know it?

Poison ivy’s secret weapon is a chemical resin called Urushiol (u-ROO-she-ol). This substance is found in every part of the plant including the leaves, stems, and roots.

Even the smoke from a burn pile can contain Urushiol particles that can cause a nasty reaction.

Urushiol binds to your skin within 10-15 minutes of coming into contact with it. For some people, this reaction (a.k.a. contact dermatitis) is immediate and for others, it can take up to 12 hours.

The reaction usually lasts between five and 12 days and looks like a red, spreading rash that is extremely itchy. In more severe cases, the rash can blister and ooze.

Common poison ivy rash (contact dermititus) involves:

The rash typically forms in a line following the track the leaves took as they brushed your skin; however, if you come into contact with clothing or a pet that has the resin on the surface, it may be more spread out.

Wilderness Tip: See a doctor if the rash covers a large area, gets into the eyes mouth, or privates, develops oozing blisters, or results in a fever of 100°F or more.

Use Essential Oils Safely and Effectively

Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts from plants that contain the plant’s natural aroma and chemical makeup.

Keeping this in mind, never apply pure, undiluted essential oils directly to the skin. They should always be diluted with water and applied with a compress (washcloth), mixed with water or a carrier oil, or blended with a cream or lotion.

The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy website has multiple suggestions for ways to apply essential oils, types of carrier (base) oils, as well as guides for how many drops of essential oil to be used per ounce of base oil.

Buy Only Pure, High-Quality Essential Oils

As in any industry, knock-offs and cheap imitations abound in the world of essential oils.

To be certain you’re using a high-quality product, buy only from reputable companies that provide the following information:

Essential Oils for Poison Ivy Relief

Once the sticky urushiol sap of poison ivy has bonded with the skin, it’s time to hunker down and let it run its course while soothing the affected area as much as possible and controlling the inflammation.

The good news is that multiple essential oils have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can offer some relief from the itch and swelling of poison ivy and, in some cases, prevent infection when the victim opens the skin from scratching too much.

The following essential oils have a tried-and-true reputation for fighting the effects of poison ivy, controlling the inflammation, and soothing those who have had the unfortunate brush with the plant.

1. Lavender Essential Oil

It’s like the super-star of essential oils. Lavender oil is antimicrobial, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is analgesic.

Plant Therapy Organic Lavender Essential Oil
$17.99 ($17.99 / Fl Oz)

Real Lavender Organic is so versatile and is loaded with benefits. That's probably why it's one the most popular and widely used essential oils.

  • USDA Organic Lavandula Angustifolia
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided
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Aside from this, Lavender’s aroma has a calming effect which is always helpful with younger children who are wild with desperation to stop the itch.

2. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

This is another oil with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. Eucalyptus essential oil also has a cooling effect that can soothe the burning itch of poison ivy.

The oil is a popular additive to conventional poison ivy treatments and other topicals like calamine lotion and vapor rubs.

Plant Therapy Eucalyptus Globulus Essential Oil
$10.99

Originating from India, Plant Therapy’s Eucalyptus Globulus Essential Oil is steam distilled from the leaves of the Eucalyptus tree to produce an essential oil that has absolutely no additives or fillers. It has a familiar herbaceous scent with soft woody undertones.

  • USDA Organic Eucalyptus Globulus
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • GC-MS Report provided
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We recommend lavender and eucalyptus oils be a part of every camping checklist, especially for those who frequently hike in the front or backcountry.

3. Peppermint Essential Oil

Like Eucalyptus oil, peppermint essential oil has a cooling effect that can take the edge off the burning itch of poison ivy.

Plant Therapy Peppermint Essential Oil
$14.99 ($14.99 / Fl Oz)

Used for centuries for its revitalizing properties, peppermint awakens the senses while promoting focus and energy. When applied to the skin, the menthol properties provide a relaxing, cooling sensation.

  • USDA Organic Mentha x piperita
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided


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Peppermint oil is also antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, making it excellent for fighting infection and reducing swelling.

Applying peppermint topically and through inhalation helps speed recovery.

4. Helichrysum Essential Oil

Also known as the Immortelle Oil, Helichrysum is not cheap. This is mostly attributed to the number of flowers it takes to generate 1 liter of oil … about 1 ton!

Truly a precious oil, its abilities to heal skin irritations are rarely found in the world of natural healing.

Helichrysum contains bactericidal and antioxidant properties that essentially clear a landing zone for other oils to swoop in and do their thing more effectively.

Plant Therapy Organic Helichrysum Italicum Essential Oil
$27.99 ($349.88 / Fl Oz)

With its strong skin healing properties, Helichrysum Italicum is a popular choice to smooth wrinkles and heal scrapes, sunburns, rashes, and fade stretch marks. It may also help ease away anger and destructive feelings.

  • USDA Organic Helichrysum Italicum
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided


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From (sun) burns to stings to rashes, it speeds the healing process by promoting healthy skin renewal.

Helichrysum’s unique aroma gives off notes of honey and butter blended with wood and spices. It blends very well with Lavender, Chamomile, Rosemary, Geranium, and Tea Tree oils.

5. Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree essential oil has a long-standing reputation for being helpful with all sorts of skin conditions, poison ivy rashes included.

From the Land Down Under, the oil is extracted from the leaves of Australia’s Melaleuca Alternifolia tree.

Plant Therapy Organic Tea Tree Oil
$16.99 ($16.99 / Fl Oz)

GMO-FREE Tea Tree oil is steam distilled from Melaleuca Alternifolia leaves, a plant only found in Australia, producing a USDA Certified Organic raw essential oil without any additives. Tea Tree Oil heals irritated skin by treating redness and restoring smoothness.

  • USDA Organic Melaleuca Alternifolia
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided


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Tea Tree oil is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and has antihistamine properties. All of these contribute to its poison ivy-fighting prowess.

Tea Tree’s aroma is somewhere between peppermint and eucalyptus, a bit overpowering until diluted.

6. Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil

The sweet, floral aroma of Ylang Ylang blends uniquely pleasant notes that are famous for reducing stress and promoting relaxation.

Plant Therapy Ylang Ylang Complete Organic Essential Oil
$39.99

100% Pure Organic Cananga Odorata has a sweet, heady floral aroma and is steam distilled for 12-18 hours, from the blossoms of the Ylang-Ylang tree.

  • USDA Organic Cananga Odorata
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided


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But this oil is also great for the skin, containing antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties that can help soothe the itch of poison ivy while reducing swelling.

Ylang-Ylang is a good choice for mixing with other oils because it helps to round out the aroma while still allowing the other oils to shine through.

7. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil

Who hasn’t had a steaming cup of Chamomile Tea to unwind after a stressful day?

Oh, you haven’t?

Well … you should!

Plant Therapy Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
$34.99 ($102.91 / Fl Oz)

Chamaemelum Nobile is not only great fro treating poison Ivy. The sweet, "green," herbaceous apple-like scent soothes the mind and body and will have you drifting off into a deep slumber. It may also help calm a teething baby and for temper tantrums. Adults massage into skin or add to a bath to ease sore muscles and headaches.

  • USDA Organic Chamaemelum Nobile
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided


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The stress-and-anxiety-reducing qualities of this sweet, fresh herbal oil paired with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which make chamomile oil to have on hand for poison ivy … or just life in general.

8. Cypress Essential Oil

Cypress oil is helpful in toning and tightening the skin while reducing inflammation.

This makes it great for poison ivy, but also for other conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Plant Therapy Organic Cypress Essential Oil
$12.49 ($36.74 / Fl Oz)

Cypress Essential Oil is steam distilled from the leaves of the Cupressus sempervirens tree in Spain and France to create a completely essential oil with no additives or fillers. It provides a wonderfully fresh, clean aroma that is herbaceous, spicy, with a slightly woodsy evergreen scent making it a wonderful choice to help support a healthy respiratory system all year long, especially during times of seasonal attacks.

  • USDA Organic Cupressus sempervirens
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided


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Cypress has a clean, slightly woody aroma with hints of evergreen that is both grounding and refreshing. It’s preferably for those who dislike floral or sweet-smelling oils.

9. Rosemary Essential Oil

A member of the mint family, rosemary is antiseptic, antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and effective as an insect repellant.

Think about that the next time you eat Italian food!

Plant Therapy Organic Rosemary Essential Oil
$17.99 ($17.99 / Count)

Steam distilled from the aerial parts of the Rosemary (Citrus sinensis) plant, this Rosemary essential oil is FREE from fillers and additives leaving nothing but a pure USDA Certified Organic essential oil. Aside from treating poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes, use it with your favorite diffuser to relieve symptoms of respiratory issues like coughs or congested nose.

  • USDA Organic Citrus sinensis
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided
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Just rubbing fresh rosemary between your palms releases refreshing pop of energizing, evergreen and citrus notes that refresh and awaken the senses.

10. Geranium Essential Oil

Geranium’s super-power is its ability to block histamines and reduce allergic reactions, such as that caused by poison ivy’s urushiol.

If you like the smell of roses, you’ll like the aroma geranium oil gives off.

Plant Therapy Organic Egyptian Geranium Essential Oil
$27.99 ($82.32 / Fl Oz)

Steam distilled from the leaves of the Pelargonium x asperum plant to produce a high-quality essential oil that is USDA Certified Organic, with absolutely no additives or fillers.

  • USDA Organic Pelargonium x asperum
  • Undiluted, 100% Pure
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided
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11. Myrrh Essential Oil

A centuries-old ointment for healing, myrrh oil is still in use today for its topical benefits.

Myrrh possesses antimicrobial properties and is anti-inflammatory, helping to ease the pain of poison ivy and swelling when applied in the early stages.

Plant Therapy Myrrh Essential Oil
$15.99 ($15.99 / Count)

Myrrh is often used for creating a relaxing atmosphere to mediate in. This calming, woody essential oil makes a great gift for pastor appreciation and a popular Christmas gift idea.100% Pure Myrrh can help rejuvenate skin. Combining Myrrh and Coconut Oil can potentially help soothe redness, wrinkles, and scars. It's great for oral health as well.

  • Undiluted, 100% Pure Commiphora myrrha
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided
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Myrrh is also hydrating and nourishing for the skin, giving it the ability to prevent that poison ivy rash from becoming dry and cracked and, thus, preventing more discomfort.

12. Oregano Oil

Although a popular cooking herb in both its dried and fresh form, oregano oil is also an effective remedy for poison ivy.

This is likely due to its high concentration of carvacrol and thymol, two compounds with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Plant Therapy Oregano Essential Oil
$8.99 ($27.24 / Fl Oz)

Oregano is one of the best oils to use when cold and flu season roll into town. Use it to help fight off a sore throat and help with candida, rashes and other skin issues. Highly dilute Origanum vulgare before diffusing or applying topically.

  • Undiluted, 100% Pure Origanum vulgare
  • Therapeutic Grade
  • Batch Specific GC-MS Report provided
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Oregano oil can help reduce itchiness, swelling, and redness when applied topically to the affected area.

Aroma-wise, however, the sharp herby smell might not appeal to kids or many adults.

13. Calendula Essential Oil

Frequently used in topical ointments for the reduction of scarring, Calendula in its pure form is excellent for making balms for cuts, skin ulcers, chapped skin, abrasions, and, yes, rashes.

The aroma, however, is not for everyone. The exceptionally musky, woody smell can be a bit unpleasant for some (kind of has a rotten flower punch to it); however, this can be reduced when mixed with a cream or carrier oil.

Note to the Reader: We have yet to find a distiller of Calendula essential oil that we trust to provide a pure oil without fillers. As soon as we do, we’ll post a link here.

DIY Natural Remedies for Poison Ivy

Once the rash has begun to develop, it’s time to start thinking about soothing the itch and reducing the inflammation.

Essential Oil Quick Compress

If you need relief quick, here it is.

Using water (sterilized if an open wound is present) as your base, add 10-12 drops of lavender oil for every ounce of water.

Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and wring it out just enough to prevent dripping. Lay it over the affected area and allow it to remain.

As needed, re-soak the cloth in the solution and reapply.

For increased effectiveness, use a witch hazel or aloe base and add drops of helichrysum and chamomile oils to the solution.

Saline + Essential Oil Spray Solution

If your poison ivy rash is not oozing, a saline solution applied with a spray bottle may be just the thing.

Spray application is ideal for achieving a cooling effect or if the rash is in a (God-forbid) spot where the sun don’t shine.

The salt is effective in drying out the rash while adding the essential oil of choice will put its unique qualities to work soothing and healing the rash.

Mix the following:

Store these in an airtight container. When ready to apply, mix 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture with 4 oz. of distilled, sterile water in a sterile spray bottle.

Stir or shake until dissolved.

Add drops (about 10 – 12 drops per ounce of water) of your desired essential oil. Shake well.

Spray as needed to soothe and treat irritated skin.

Aloe Vera + Essential Oil

Ahhh … aloe on itchy skin. The best.

For every teaspoon of Aloe Vera gel, add a drop of your preferred essential oil and rub away.

Use a high-quality Aloe like Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel to avoid knock-offs with lots of perfumes and additives.

Seven Minerals Organic Aloe Vera Gel
$19.95 ($1.66 / Fl Oz)

Proudly grown in Southern Texas, this aloe vera gel is NSF Organic & IASC Certified.

Harvested from real freshly cut aloe leaves (not powder) it is one of the purest and strongest on the market. For that reason please test on less sensitive areas first to make sure no reactions occur.

Soothe your sunburn, treat your cuts, clear up your rashes, take the sting out of bites, calm your shaving burn and more!

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If aloe vera is not available, coconut oil can be substituted.

Witch Hazel + Essential Oil

Witch Hazel is an effective astringent that excels at reducing inflammation and itchiness.

Forever Pure Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel

One of Earth's most natural topical astringents, face toner, anti-inflammatory that cleanses and conditions skin, helps control excess oil, tightens and refines pores, reduces skin blemishes, soothes psoriasis, eczema, sunburns, razor burns, and much more.

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To make a Witch Hazel + Essential oil mixture, add 10 – 12 drops of your preferred oil to 2 ounces of witch hazel in a sterile spray bottle. Shake well and apply as needed, avoiding contact with eyes.

If you don’t have a spray bottle, apply it with a clean cotton ball.

If you don’t have Witch Hazel, Apple Cider Vinegar will work … but, the smell may blow your eyebrows off.

Essential Oil + Oatmeal Bath Bomb

An oatmeal bath is always a soothing experience ( except for us 6’5″ Sasquatches who have yet to find a tub they can fit in).

And this is an ideal way to treat poison ivy rash that covers a large area, like all over the legs.

To do this you’ll need:

  1. Pour the ground oats, baking soda, and salt into a cloth bag or clean sock.
  2. Add 7-8 drops of each of your preferred essential oils.
  3. Tie off the opening of the bag (there’s your bomb).
  4. Fill the bathtub with tepid (not hot) water and drop in your bath bomb.
  5. Slide in and soak for at least half an hour.

Here’s to a Quick Recovery!

… or, hopefully, you didn’t fall for the ol’ blackberry bait trap like I did.

There you have it, some quick and easy DIY natural remedies for poison ivy.

Remember, the best defense against poison ivy is to avoid contact altogether. But, if you do find yourself with a case of the itchies, hopefully, one of these remedies will help you find some relief.

And last but not least, don’t forget to wash your clothes and anything else that may have come in contact with the poison ivy plant. The last thing you want is to re-irritate those poor, itchy skin cells.

Joshua Davis

Being outdoors is freedom! Being outdoors with my wife and two boys is LIVING! Whether in my backyard or getting lost in a National Park, there’s nothing I’d rather do than explore, discover, and experience the paradise that surrounds us. Give me my family, a backpack, and a trail and my life is full!